When an Emergency Strikes, What Do You Reach For? AED Unit or Fire Extinguisher?
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – With what feels like a fire station in every neighborhood, a fire extinguisher in every room and advanced fire sprinkler systems above your head no matter where you are, fires must kill a lot of people, right? Wrong!
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2007 report, “Fire Loss in the United States During 2007” there were 3,430 civilian and 102 firefighter deaths during the year. This translates to roughly 12 fire-related deaths per million Americans. Statistically, America has reduced fire-deaths by 5% year-over-year from 2006, and since 1978, this represents a decline of more than 50%.
By comparison, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) was estimated to take the lives of over 350,000 Americans during the year, far and away the country’s leading killer. With so much attention paid to fires and fire-related deaths, one must wonder about the inadequacies in coverage and attention between the two preventable occurences. Moreover, with less than 18,000 injuries as a result of fires, the inadequacy of coverage proves to be even more glaring.
Certainly fires are tragic and all avoidable deaths, from fires or otherwise, have a detrimental impact on communities, families, and involved parties. Witnessing and responding to incidents is critically important for each type of emergency and the emotional impact to bystanders is long-lasting. Yet, by analyzing the facts, major discrepancies exist. For instance:
- There are millions of fire extinguishers deployed in buildings throughout the United States, while Automated External Defibrillators (AED units) offer less than 1% market saturation.
- Structures built from all types of materials are required to have fire extinguishers on site, while few buildings require defibrillators.
- A fire extinguisher might result in limited property damage, but its effect on saving a life is uncertain. Conversely, AED units will prevent death for the majority of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims if applied in a timely manner (50-74% of people will be saved if the AED unit is applied within 3-5 minutes of the victim’s collapse).
- While fires spread quickly and do risk life, if SCA isn’t treated within 3-5 minutes, the victim’s chances of survival are less than 5%.
- Today’s technology gives warning during the early, incipient stages of a fire, while Sudden Cardiac Arrest is instant and by definition shows no signs or symptoms before attacking its victims.
- Fires are a result of three things: oxygen, heat, and fuel. You take out one element and the fire will go out. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can attack any individual no matter their age, ethnicity, or background.
So the next time you hear the piercing sirens of a fire truck as it passes you in an intersection, think to yourself, are they pulling victims out of a burning building, or applying life-saving defibrillation therapy to one of 1,000 people who will die of Sudden Cardiac Arrest on this day? The chances are almost a 1,000% greater that they’re performing CPR and attempting to “shock” their victim back to life.